Service of Coupons

January 17th, 2013

Categories: Coupons, Post Office

coupons

I received a batch of coupons and promo materials from an unlikely source: The United States Postal Service. They came in an envelope marked with a warning that I should open the envelope for important follow up information after I’d notified the post office of my change of office address.

I learned that there wasn’t anything to do in follow up. The instructions were to let them know if something was wrong. I’d probably not have received the envelope at the new address if there was.

us-postal-serviceMost prominent in the envelope was a stack of informational coupons for home security, hardware, phone, bank, internet/cable, a newspaper subscription, appliances, satellite TV service, car insurance, furniture, address labels, five-gallon water plans, blinds, an alternative energy source and a gift store.

Guess the “important follow up” was for me to buy from these vendors.

I mention the coupons as a service to readers: If you haven’t moved lately, you might not know to suggest this marketing option to a client or friend.

While I am happily surprised that the post office has become this enterprising, I also wonder about the appropriateness of the vehicle. About.com notes, “According to the laws under which it now operates, the U.S. Postal Service is a semi-independent federal agency, mandated to be revenue-neutral. That is, it is supposed to break even, not make a profit.” [It's not making a profit for a bunch of reasons so apparently the coupon business doesn't fill in the income gap sufficiently to put the postal service at risk of breaking the law.]

Do you think the post office is taking good or bad advantage of customers by acting as a welcome wagon of sorts? Are they selling my name and address to the participating companies?

welcome-wagon

9 Responses to “Service of Coupons”

  1. Kathleen Said:

    We, too, get the packet every fall when we put in a forwarding address for our cottage address. I’ve never found that this has led to unwanted solicitations. And on occasion we’ve used a coupon at Lowe’s or Home Depot, so we welcome them. For those major residential moves, some coupons could be a real plus.

  2. Jan Said:

    I think the bigger issue is the false statement on the envelope “open for important follow up information.” This type of tactic is being used increasingly not just in the mail (could this be considered mail fraud?) but in headlines of items that call themselves “news items.” You invest your time to read or listen to the “news item” only to find out it’s a non-story or worse, there is nothing in the story related to the headline attached to it–as in your coupon example. So now I feel I’ve wasted my time. This really turns me off and gives me every reason to not consider the product/service much less purchase it. As for “news items” it results in their loss of credibility with me. So I don’t see how this tactic is of any value.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Kathleen,

    Good to know that you haven’t been pestered by the participants in these packages!

    As my move was clearly business–from one office building to another–I thought it rather strange to get a residential-oriented package! Where was Staples, Office Depot, Constant Contact etc.?

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Jan,

    I thought at first that you were going in a different direction, namely envelopes dressed to look official when they are not. These are on my black list.

    As for the deceit of news stories, for years now I’ve increasingly seen “news stories” written more like features–or bad press releases–with the who, what, when, where and why in paragraph 14 if at all. In the effort to save money, media business decisions may lead the pennies wise, pound foolish list. Perhaps it’s time to write another post on that list.

  5. Hank Goldman Said:

    If the non intrusive coupons help the postal service…. It’s fine with me.

    Congress has screwed them by NOT even voting on bills that would help them to meet their budget!!

  6. Lucrezia Said:

    Coupons by the hundreds arrive daily, and some can save money. Over time, this adds up. No one is selling names without the tacit consent of the consumer. Further, no one has access to a name unless the item/service is being paid for by credit card. A local jeweler periodically offers 15% off purchases and/or repairs. They do not sell names, or I would have been swamped by jewelry ads by now.

    Writer Goldman makes two good points. To add insult to injury, postal rates rise next week.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Thanks for reminding us about the postal rate increase. Sigh. Thank goodness for Forever stamps–We don’t have to stand in line for one or two cent stamps and muck up the look of an envelope with a parade of stamps to match the increase.

  8. Horace Peabody Said:

    One thing this country is notorious for is its increasingly dismal collective memory of its past.

    We all seem to have forgotten that communications were as important to the founding fathers as medicine is to us now. One of the first acts of the Continental Congress, even before it declared the country independent from England, was to set up a national postal service with Benjamin Franklin as Postmaster General.

    We also worried then about having the right to bear arms because every man needed a rifle to hunt for food and to protect himself from the British and the Indians. Now, of course, the Brits are busy producing first class entertainment like “Downton Abbey,” and the only Indian threat we face is a peaceful one from a different batch 10,000 miles away who are technology wizzes.

    We no more need post offices than we need guns. Between Email, FedEx, UPS and the like, the Postal Service has become a monstrously expensive white elephant! I realize that for political reasons we can’t close it down, any more than we can stop needless killing by taking guns away from people. Therefore, I have no problem if the Service tries to become less of a burden on taxpayers by taking in revenue from advertisers. Besides, all I do with those stupid coupons is to throw them away.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Horace,

    The postal service dropped the ball. It opened the door for Fed Ex and UPS’s upgrades.

    It might have entered the field of online communication. The missing of all these opportunities is sad.

    I still love to receive birthday and holiday cards in the mail. I appreciate email ones–some are amazing. But while stunning and better for the environment, they are not as memorable as some actual cards. My sister gave me a singing birthday card years ago that remains on the mantel as it makes me laugh every time I open it.

    I live without a lot of things that I still miss such as a decent local weekly newspaper that arrives in the mail. When it’s gone, I’ll surely live without mailed cards. Sad.

    As for the public owning high-powered guns, I wouldn’t miss them at all. I suppose it’s unfair for me to share my opinion on the subject as guns have not been in or a part of my background. I was brought up in NYC where hunting isn’t a sport, for one thing. And I think my father had more than enough of guns as a soldier in WWII so they weren’t around our home.

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